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Thursday, June 05, 2008

King's Cross Central, London, United Kingdom

Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design build will commence in Camden
Planning permission has been granted for London’s most popular borough for art, Camden, to become home to the new Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design campus. 5,000 staff and students will be relocated from 6 separate London sites to the new state-of-the-art campus, designed by Stanton Williams, in 2011. The campus is to form part of the King’s Cross Central regeneration project and will be the centre of a new cultural quarter and in the borough, already home to the Camden Arts Centre, The Roundhouse, Hampstead Theatre and the British Museum.

The design shows a collaboration of contemporary and historic features with the university housed in a regenerated Granary Complex in a unique Grade II listed industrial complex. Stanton Williams say the design is a, ‘contemporary intervention’ that ‘responds to the raw beauty and industrial background of the Granary Complex’.

An international competition was launched in 2001 for the scheme which was originally set for the Holborn area of London but following considerations of flexibility and the design by Stanton Williams the developer, Argent were offered the opportunity in 2006 to develop the site in Camden.

The Central School of Arts & Craft’s first Principal WR Lethaby – an architect, designer and educationalist – asked that the original building at Southampton Row, opened in 1908, be “plain, reasonable and well built”. The building helped pioneer a new form of teaching where students learnt by using tools in a workshop environment. Stanton Williams were asked to provide a world-class facility of exceptional scale to create a highly visible identity for Central Saint Martins.

With respect for the ‘austere beauty of the existing Eastern Goods Yard Buildings, juxtaposing old with new and introducing a robust, contemporary palette of materials of high quality concrete, steel and glass,’ Stanton hope to ensure that the campus, ‘reflects its roots, while providing state of the art facilities for a new creative generation’.

The new campus will house studios and workshops; a lecture theatre and seminar facilities for up to 350 people; a museum and a gallery; flexible performance, rehearsal and exhibition spaces; a roof terrace; offices and even security checkpoints.

Flexible and adaptable new four storey studio buildings, performance spaces and a top lit internal north/south street will replace existing ‘Assembly Sheds’, transforming the space while respecting the scale and massing of the existing buildings, and roof lines. A new theatre space at the north of the site with its own entrance will be created with concrete and steel to create a contrasting composition between the existing historic transit sheds. To add light to the campus previously bricked up windows and arches will be re-opened and new archways added. Original cast-iron beams will be retained and will frame the entrances.

The campus will cover a site of 39,000 sq m. Construction will begin shortly and is due for completion in 2010.

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

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